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captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund >> belva: the state republican convention kicks off as tough budget negotiations are still in play. a federal court challenge to rank choice voting at a recent poll finds most voters don't understand how it works. will hospitals go along with new requirements to report patient infection rates? and with concerns about the impact here of japan's nuclear drift, a climate watch conversation with mary nichols, chairman of the air resources board. coming up next.
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good evening. i i'm belva davis. >> joining me are sarah varney health reporter with 88.5 fm and bob egelko, legal reporter with the "san francisco chronicle." and josh richman, legal and political affairs reporter for the "oakland tribune." . josh, what's going on at the republican convention? it's gotten started. any fireworks yet? >> fireworks right off the bat. this is a convention where the
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state gop has a lot to unpack. this is their first gathering since november, when there was a democratic sweep of all the state-wide offices. coming in to this convention this week they have had a republican poll, a poll put out yesterday saying latinos, proving to be more of a swing vote in the state more than ever before and census figures grow don't trust the republican party very much. and are not inclined to think in terms of what the republican party thinks of as core conservative values. >> is that real news to them? >> i think it was in some ways. they tried to put a positive spin on it. when they put the poll out, it is new poll shows california republicans can gain ground with latino voters, despite negative image. the fact is 26% of those polled had a favorable opinion of the republican party, compared to 62% who had a favorable opinion
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of the democrats, but what the poll showed is they can gain ground by emphasizing education, jobs, anti-terrorism, things like that. but you have got a situation where the republican party is dealing with delicate budget system tom from lafayette is trying to attract moderates, independents, to the party, reinvigorated. he doesn't have much of a bench, especially after the house cleaning last november. meg whitman, steve poiser in will not be at the convention and damon dunn who was the nominee of secretary of state decided to go abroad and celebrate his birthday instead of speak at the convention. they are grappling with how to proceed from here. how to get voters to identify with this values that traditionally have been the republican party of california's
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values. >> is there much talk about broadening those values to try to appeal to latino voters and reading the winds here in california a bit? >> i think that is part of the play book that tom dell bacaro is hoping to bring to the party. how effective he is in doing that, how eager the convention is to hear that, remains to be seen as the weekend unfolds. remember, conventions -- for all of the hoopla around them, they are not always the most effective true intraspeck ty events you moep hope they might be. this is when the the party faithful are coming together to discuss bylaws and strategy and stuff like that and a complete change of direction is not always something that party faithful by nature will endorse. >> does it seem like what is going on with the legislative republicans as much of a formula for broadening the base.
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>> it wouldn't seem that way necessarily. what we have going on in the legislature right now with the budget is -- >> belva: let's move to that. >> we got part way there this week in that the legislature voted to approve about $14 billion in budget cuts, which helps to close this $26.6 billion deficit that we're facing. the rest of it, what didn't get voted upon, because this were no republican votes for this whatever soefr so ever were the elimination of the redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones which is one of the solutions that governor brown has called for, what some democrats are not comfortable with either and with letting voters decide in a special election this summer whether to extend by five years the current income and sales and vehicle tax raise. 0 that's something that will remain a big bone of contention this weekend.
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there's an interesting debate actually yesterday between eric hogue, conservative radio talk show host and john flieshman, whose a party regional vice chair and prominent blogger and hogue was saying he party should not put itself in the position of standing between the voters and a decision. that it is up to the voters to decide whether the tax extension would be appropriate and republicans shouldn't deny them a chance to express themselves on that. where flieshman was saying we are against taxing. we can't put it on the ballot without assuming it could pass and the unions will spend enormous money to try to get it to pass. of course republicans usually find some money to spend in elections as well. >> belva: so does this bringer wherry brown any closer -- -- so does this bring jerry brown any closer or did it jeopardize him by having the convention where the five or so republicans that he thought hi could count on are
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being pressured. >> there are elements in the party who want to see the republicans engaging in some way, trying to get something for their votes, and there are those who think that it is better to sit back and let jerry brown and the democrats try to own everything, even if it is an all-cuts budget. i think this comes down to both sides trying to make the other side own as much of this as possible. i think, in the past, legislative republicans for the last seven years, while they weren't always -- were rarely happy, actually, with governor schwarzenegger he had their back on not raising taxes. this is a different matter. they have got somebody who is actively trying to make them own, not letting voters decide whether to have higher taxes. >> belva: now we will move and see if anyone wants to own something that many of us find cob fusing. it is called rank choice voting, is that the right title? >> sometimes called instant
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runoff voting. >> the convention is that there are many people, the polls have shown, that do not understand the system. >> well, you can interpret polls any number of ways. i live in oakland. we elected a mayor through rank choice voting. it seems that may or may not offense if it were suggested that people elected her by accident or because they didn't understand. she was elected mayor despite finishing second in the first round, nine ten points behind don parada. but when the votes were added up she won. i don't want to go back in to that too much. the story is well known and i want to talk about the court case. but it is a new system. people are voting in a new way. there's always break in problems with new systems and a certain level of confusion. high turnout in the city of oakland. and i would suggest that people
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who voted in that election probably knew pretty much. >> belva: let's go to why the courts are involved. >> there's a lawsuit, a federal court lawsuit by a defeated supervisor candidate and a group of voters. and it was argued this week before the ninth circuit court of appeals. the federal judge in san francisco had upheld the system last year. the contention in this lawsuit is that rank choice voting, which operates by taking the votes of lower down candidates, the candidate who finishes last in the round and reportioning them to the top tier until someone gets a majority. that rank choice voting disenfranchises takes the ballot out of the hand of people who did not vote for candidates in the top ten because their votes won't really count at the end. when the final two candidates
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are chosen in the tally. >> how do their votes count any less than those who voted for people who just lost? >> the decision is the traditional primary and runoff system the top two candidate will be put in and everybody gets to vote. so presooem sumably you get a second chance and -- -- presumably you get a second chance you get a voice when the final decision is made. does that have a legal significance? there is some suggestions in the court hearings this week that it does not. the reason is that it turns out, and this is one of the suggestions that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are making, we could go to a system where the top vote system where the top votes gets the win. so you can vote for several people and turns out the first preference, the nader gore,
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which was the incentive for this, you can vote for first preference without really helping the candidate that you want least. say the person on the left doesn't want to help george bush but maybe winds up doing it by voting for ralph nader so you can have it both ways. this it is a more sophisticated challenging voting system but maybe more representative democratically because you can vote for someone who you mieft prefer and someone who shares their values. >> who -- i assume this doesn't benefit the main parties. this must benefit up and coming parties or inld parties. parties who have a hard time getting traction. >> i think it does benefit third and fourth parties because you can vote for them without giving up your chance to vote for a winner. in san francisco, it probably benefits the left on the board of supervisor, because
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presumably they can run multiple candidates and at least one of them will have second and third choices and
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and it can be deadly but it is true that hospitals have had a difficult time getting a handle on how to count those infeces. so now that science sup to speed, there are infection control boards in every hospital in california and starting this year it the hospital is required to report infections to the state. we got a chance to look at that data at the end of dechls it was incomplete -- at the end of december. it was incomplete in part because the mechanism wasn't worked out well. this next year in 2011, we should have a clearer picture of what the infection rate is in
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california hospitals. there's another hammer coming down, which is that the centers for medicare and medicaid are now going to be dinging hospitals 2% in their reimbursements if they don't report their infections. so today actually i was on the phone with the person at cms who's in charge of the effort and he expects they will go from 50% compliance with their voluntary effort to 100% compliance. it is 2% of the medicare reimbursements is potentially millions of dollars. >> it hasn't been a leader in this. there was a veto previously and then this bill got signed in 2008 and here we are finally getting the information. >> we are the 28th state to basically pass public reporting law. pennsylvania is very much ahead of pretty much every other state on the issue. they have a broader array of infection, types of infections they have to report. remember you can get an infection in the icu, when you
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are delivering a baby. and all of these infection rates are calculated differently. but it's true that california has not been a leader in this issue. when i talked to people who sit on this board, or this committee, this legislative committee, a committee created by the legislature, it is 32 people. 30 are representatives from the hospital and only two from consumer advocates. so you talk to consumer advocates and they will say the hospitals are dragged their feet and slowed down the implementation of the process. the hospitals will say this is complicated stuff and the stakes are big. if we put in -- we are basically pulling back the sheet, if you will, and showing people the inards of the hospital. if mine reflects mine and my competitor doesn't, my reputation is on the line. >> how many thousands of people die. >> hundreds of thousands of
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people in the united states. >> this isn't like a restaurant. this is a big serious thing. >> belva: why has thereto not been penalties? there is no monetary price to pay for not doing it too. >> this is true for medicare and this is true for a couple of years. if you go in to a hospital and get an infection and there's a series of medical treatments the hospital has to do because of the infection, medicare won't pay for that. they will simply pay what you went to the hospital for. there are exemptions to that. it is not a hard and fast rule i. is true that medicare has tried to push on this issue. and med aid pretty soon will be coming on-line with similar requirements but what you hear from the hospitals and from people who try to implement the measures nationwide, this is not -- it's not as easy as one might think to keep track of all of these things.
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you have thousands of people coming in to the hospital every week. you have to swab them to make sure did they come in to the hospital with mrsa or other infeces. and -- infections. and you have generations of physicians who believe that infections in a sense are unavoidable and you treated them with antibiotics. >> is there anything patients can do to protect themselves? >> i was at long beach at a hospital and it was interesting. their mrsa rate is practically zero. one of the things they do is require their patients to shower before they go in to the hospital. and when they are in the hospital they actually wash their hands. it's not just the nurses and doctors but actually patients can do quite a bit to rid themselves of bacteria before they go to the hospital. >> at least that's something. >> right. >> thank you. >> belva: concerns are mounting over the impact of nuclear drift from japan. earlier today, climate watch senior editor craig miller spoke
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with mary nichols, chair of the california air resources board. under both arnold schwarzenegger and jerry brown in this climate watch conversation. >> mary nichols, thank you for taking a few minutes with us. >> pleasure. >> you are charged with implementing the 2006 law known as ab-32 the global warming solutions act and prodding utilities with toward 33% renewable energy by 2020. we'll talk about those but first a nod to what's on everybody's minds right now, i think. not to discount the enormous suffering going on in japan right now, we are getting questions about nuclear drift here in california. >> right. >> how involved is the air board in watching that or are you communicating with those who are and are you hearing the same thing we are that the risk is minimal at this point at least? >> our agency is responsible, as a member of the state's emergency task force, for monitoring events and we are on conference calls several times a
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day getting updates from the federal government. the radiation monitoring is done by the u.s. epa, using their own equipment, but their land that the state owns and in many cases they are next door to our own monitoring stations and we share a lot of information and perspectives about the way the wind blows. arb, of course, for years, has been looking a deposition of pollutants as far as asia and making measurements and assessments of what they contribute to our on-shore air pollution. so radiation in, in that sense, is familiar to us, as another type of pollution. obviously a very serious, long-lasting kind of pollution. >> do you concur with the minimal risk aspect of it? >> i think -- i'm always wary of characterizing risk in these situations. but for the moment we can say that the levels that are being measured are not far above background levels and that based
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on what we
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juan decision, we expect the final decision anytime. that would in essence force them to go to the drawing board on some aspects of implementing ab-32. how much of a setback will this be? >> well, the judge's preliminary ruling was that when we developed our plan for meeting the overall reduction goals of
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ab-32, we should have done a larger more indepth analysis of a cap and trade, versus other alternatives. the cap and trade program is only about 20% of the total emissions reductions that we called for in our scoping plan. and the judge didn't actually challenge the cap and trade rule itself. that was done through a separate rule making and has its own very extensive environmental impact assessment, including an analysis of the cost and benefits of other types of alternatives. so frankly, although it is symbolically, of course, a setback if the judge does go final and actually order us to redo the plan, but in reality, it will have little impact because the plan itself is not of any legal force. the cap and trade rule is already been adopted and in fact is -- it's already in effect.
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we're not enforcing it right now because we are still working out the details of enforcement but the basic structure, the rule has already been adopted. so it is a little more of tempest in a teapot. >> we are short on time already. we mentioned that we would be talking to you and we got questions. i filtered them for things that were not climate related or pure infected you know you are a lightning rod, right. >> i guess so. >> let's get a couple of these in. first of all, most of the questions seem to point to a lot of people are still just not convinced that ab-32's implechltation isn't going to be a drag on california's economy. what can you say to convince them? >> the first thing i would say is we are already in the process of implementing ab-32. we have, in effect, the most important piece, the one we are relying on for the most
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reductions in green house gases which is our auto emission standards and not only are they not a drain on the economy, they are saving consumers money every day at the pump. i think this fear that somehow this is going to create some new additional burden on the price of energy is just wrong. an i guess the other thing i would say that at least gives me comfort is that we basically had this discussion during the course of the last election. we had two candidates who took very different positions on ab-32, jerry brown who supported it. meg whitman who said it should be suspended for a year and we had proposition 23, which was a serious, well-financed measure on the ballot to try to suspend ab-32, while our state is in the process of trying to recover from a terrible recession. and in both cases, the voters of california overwhelmingly rejected the arguments against ab-32. so that give mess at least some comfort that i'm not out there
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alone. >> i have to get one more viewer question in real quick. from tag guard. he wants to know how many times you have taken alternative transit in a year. he says bet i could guess. can you surprise him? >> actually i walk to work in sacramento. so i don't take transit here in l.a. i will admit when i go from my home in midtown los angeles to else monty i do drive a car. >> walking works. you are off the hook on that one. thank you for taking a few minutes with us. >> thank you. >> belva: my thanks to all of you for joining us in on the's very interesting discussions. and that is all the time that we have. our program is available at kqed.org/thisweek. to watch pest past episodes, and
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to share your thoughts, i'm belva davis. good night.
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tv
This Week in Northern California
PBS March 19, 2011 1:30am-2:00am PDT

Series/Special. (2011) (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY California 10, Us 5, Jerry Brown 4, Mary Nichols 3, San Francisco 3, Oakland 3, Meg Whitman 2, Brown 2, Hogue 1, Soefr 1, Sarah Varney 1, Bob Egelko 1, Don Parada 1, Nader Gore 1, Eric Hogue 1, Dell Bacaro 1, Vitac 1, Epa 1, Los Angeles 1, Beach 1
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